What a week it has been in the UFC. Dana White announced that TUF 20 will create a new division and a new champion. Georges St-Pierre vacates the title and leaves competitive action indefinitely and as a result the UFC reveal that Johny Hendricks will fight Robbie Lawler for the vacated title. You will be forgiven if your focus or thoughts are not primarily on the fights tonight.
I get the feeling that this event is being looked over as “just another event”. But each of the main card fights has major implications for all the participants.
UFC Flyweight Title
Demetrious Johnson (c) vs Joseph Benavidez
The pair first met just 15 months ago in the final of the UFC flyweight tourney to crown an inaugural champ, Johnson walked away with the belt via split decision. The flyweights don’t get enough credit. This will be Benavidez’s fourth fight and Johnson’s third title defense since their first fight, in just 15 months! Of course title fights always have implications on the UFC as it could crown a new champ etc. But what if Johnson wins? Benavidez then finds himself in the dreaded “Rich Franklin area” as arguably being number two in the division but with no other title shot being justifiable for a long time unless Johnson gets defeated down the line.
So we will either get a new champ or one of the best in the world will be become somewhat irrelevant.
Urijah Faber vs Michael McDonald
A title shot has all but been guaranteed to the winner here, with him facing the winner of Dominck Cruz vs Renan Barao at some point in 2014. A loss for McDonald here would not effect him too much, he is only 22 and is regarded as the future of the division. It is a slightly different story for Faber who at 34 is desperate on his quest to get that elusive title (he has lost his past five title fights). Faber has looked good in his past three fights and shows little to no sign of age creeping in but it is just one of those things that creeps in one day without notice and that has to be in the back of the mind when talking about Faber. Plus I think most of the UFC would love to see a Cruz vs Faber rubber match for the title, Faber needs to win and so does Cruz otherwise the UFC misses out on a massive title fight heading into 2014.
Chad Mendes vs Nick Lentz
It is a “snakes and ladders” fight here. Both Mendes and Lentz have clawed their way up the hard way getting wins after suffering defeats that knocked them down again. Lentz went on a 15-fight unbeaten run that ended at UFC 140 with a decision loss to Mark Bocek and then he lost his next fight to Evan Dunham, the first time he has ever lost successive fights. But then he pulled himself together, dropped weight and has won three in a row now. Mendes started out 11-0 before getting a title shot at Jose Aldo, but lost that fight on the brink of the bell at the end of round 1. That loss knocked Mendes back down the ladder and he has since won all four of his fights.
The winner will possibly get a title shot while the loser gets knocked back down the ladder again.
Joe Lauzon vs Mac Danzig
Both men need a win here as each have lost their past two fights. Danzig, more so than Lauzon, will be under more pressure as his UFC career could be at stake. He has a less than impressive 3-7 record since September 2008 and a loss here will mean the second time he has suffered three fight skids in his UFC career. The UFC will not release the 12-time ‘OTN’ winner Lauzon if he suffers defeat here but a defeat could have a major impact on him mentally. J-Lau said he desperately wants the win here and doesn’t even think of the of bonuses.
Could we see another TUF winner getting released in Danzig or one of the most entertaining fighters out there suffer his third straight that could play on his mind-set heading into the future.
Demetrious Johnson (c) vs. Joseph Benavidez
Urijah Faber vs. Michael McDonald
Nik Lentz vs. Chad Mendes
Mac Danzig vs. Joe Lauzon
Court McGee vs. Ryan LaFlare
Edson Barboza vs. Danny Castillo
Bobby Green vs. Pat Healy
Scott Jorgensen vs. Zach Makovsky
Abel Trujillo vs. Roger Bowling
Cody McKenzie vs. Sam Stout
Alp Ozkilic vs. Darren Uyenoyama